Tuesday, November 5, 2013

                                               The Thumbing Down of America

Don’t get me wrong. I think there is value to texting--albeit minimal. To be fair, I will state my unbiased “mature” view of the no-need-for-phone-camera-e-mail-cursive-language-spelling-touching-sensitivity technology of the 21st century. I love being able to communicate instantly with relatives living far away. I like being able to get answers to questions immediately. As I have always disliked the telephone, texting allows me to accomplish said task with no ear time. I like how fast it is, and how I don’t have to go to any particular location to access it. That being said, there are obvious dangers and disadvantages to this system.

I am not going to ramble on about the dangers, but I am fascinated by the new dating culture unique only to thumbing on an hourly basis. In a recent conversation with a single person, I learned that many meet their dates online. This is certainly not novel or  surprising; however, once a date has been established, the couple ultimately ends up in a coffee house or a bar. This is where those of us who were single in the last twenty years ended up anyway; we just had more face time getting there. My fascination comes from the follow-up after dates one through seven or eight. Apparently, the frequency, amount of time it takes to receive a text back after sending one, the enthusiasm expressed by how many hashtags or smiley faces determines the assessment of the person’s interest in the other, and therefore, the strategy going forward. WHAT?

For example, if you text the guy at 6:30 a.m. on your way to work and he hasn’t responded within ten to fifteen minutes, this means he may not be interested. A seven-hour delay indicates “he’s just not that into you.” What if the guy is focused on his work. (Now there’s a concept) Or what if he forgot his phone? Of what if he’s on deadline, and even though he wants to respond, he is surrounded by colleagues who might squeal if he wasn’t racing to the finish. Or what if the guy wants to impress the woman, and he’s just not ready to send what he might consider a “cool” answer. Men tend to be much simpler and less creative in coming up with a response to the poem or cartoon he received on his way to work when he was still gorked. The bottom line is that, according to my source, 80% of the dating “game” (yes, they are still playing the same one that started in 1742) is played out by the rule of thumb. It seems to me that there is a great deal of interpretation going on between the thumb and the brain, and there must be many new kinds of misunderstandings and misconceptions involved.

My source says her new guy has “breezy” thumb habits. This means, his responses are not following the rules she has set and which she has not thumbed to him. When I asked the lame question, “Have you asked him why he is erratic in his thumbing habits?” She said, “Oh no. That would tell him I’m interested. I can’t do that.”
“Of course,” I said. 

And I thought thumbing a ride in the sixties was dangerous.